Research Publications and Copyright Policy FAQs

The answers to some of the common questions researchers have about our new policy.



This page provides further information on our Research Publications and Copyright Policy. Below you will find answers to some frequently asked questions, and we will keep this page updated. You can find guidance on how to comply with the policy here.

About Rights Retention

What is the Rights Retention approach used in the new Research Publications and Copyright policy?

Rights retention is a funder-led initiative to ensure authors of scholarly articles can retain control over the copyright of their research outputs, and allow these to be shared open access. This approach enables compliance with funder open access policies, and also allows research to be disseminated as widely and openly as possible.

Will Rights Retention enable me to comply with my funder’s open access policy?

Yes. Retaining control of the copyright in your research articles allows them to be made available open access in our institutional repository from the date of first online publication in the journal. This ensures compliance with funder open access mandates, including those of the Wellcome Trust and UKRI. It will also ensure compliance with any future REF open access requirements.

Which other institutions have implemented similar policies?

As of February 2023 there are now 16 UK institutions that have implemented some form of rights retention strategy.

Have publishers been made aware of the policy?

Yes. In addition to the high profile Times Higher Educational Supplement piece published as part of the N8 Rights Retention Strategy launch, the University has written directly to over 190 publishers to inform them of our revised publication policy. You can see the list of publishers we have contacted here.

The scope of our policy

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all staff and postgraduate research students at the University of Sheffield.

Which output types are in scope of the policy?

The University of Sheffield Research Publications and Copyright Policy applies to all scholarly articles and conference proceedings papers authored, or co-authored, by staff and postgraduate research students, and submitted on or after 3rd January 2023.

I am a PGR who has left the University. Can I still deposit my AAM in White Rose Research Online using Rights Retention?

If your article or conference proceedings paper was submitted while you were still based at Sheffield, and was submitted on or after 3rd January 2023, then you will be able to rely on our Research Publications and Copyright Policy to make the author accepted manuscript (AAM) open access. Please contact for more information. We do not accept article deposits into our repository by non-current staff and students, so for submissions made since leaving you should contact your current institution.


Why are authors required to grant a licence to the University?

By granting the University of Sheffield a CC BY licence to any author accepted manuscript (AAM) arising from their submitted article or conference paper, our researchers create a prior licence commitment. This in turn ensures we can make the AAM open access in our institutional repository under that licence, irrespective of any other licence on the published version of record.

Why is a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) Licence stated as the required licence?

The Creative Commons Attribution Licence is the preferred licence of major funders including the Wellcome Trust and UKRI, and allows the greatest possible reuse and distribution of copyright works. If there are specific circumstances where you are unable to share your article under the CC BY licence then you can use our forms to apply for a different licence or an opt-out. Be aware that opting out may mean your article is not compliant with your funder or REF requirements.

Do I have a choice of licence?

We recognise that there will be some cases where there is a valid reason to opt out of the policy.  In such cases, you are requested to indicate your intention to opt out by completing this form. Please note that if you opt out of this policy your output may not be compliant with your funder or the REF requirements. If you wish to opt out of the CC BY licence requirement of the policy and choose a different Creative Commons licence then you can do so by completing this form to let the library know your preferred licence.


Who owns the copyright in scholarly articles?

As set out in the University Research Publications and Copyright Policy and the Intellectual Property Policy, while the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) states that: “Where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or film is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work subject to any agreement to the contrary” (S11.2), the University wishes to uphold the long tradition of allowing researchers to exercise control over their scholarly outputs.

What if my article includes third party copyright material?

This policy applies to all scholarly articles, including conference proceedings, authored or co-authored while the person is a staff member or postgraduate research student of The University of Sheffield, and also includes any third party content where rights to use or reproduce that content have been secured or where such content is used under the fair dealing exemption in the CDPA 1988.

General questions

What should I do on a multi-author paper with a large number of co-authors?

Where the number of co-authors is too large for a discussion of the policy requirement to be practical, then you should notify the corresponding author of the requirement of the policy. The corresponding author can then handle any communication among the co-authors.

What if I am not the corresponding author?

You should make your co-author(s) aware of the University policy, and the need to include the rights retention statement in the submitted manuscript. It is likely to be easiest for the corresponding author to handle any correspondence between the co-authors. When the paper is published all co-authors will be able to benefit from the paper being available open access in our repository. 

Where do I include the Rights Retention Statement on my manuscript?

We recommend that the statement be included in the acknowledgments section of your manuscript, and it is also good practice to include the statement in any submission correspondence.

Do I need to include the Rights Retention Statement if I am publishing in a gold open access journal?

We recommend that you still include the statement, even when publishing in a gold open access journal.

What happens when I move institution?

If you move to another institution your articles and proceedings papers deposited in our repository will continue to be available open access under the CC BY licence. This allows your work to be downloaded and shared openly at any future institution. If you are moving to Sheffield from another institution without a rights retention strategy then we cannot apply the policy retrospectively to your past outputs, but it will apply to any articles submitted while you are based here.

For help and support with complying with the policy, please email us at

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